Let Me Stand Next To Your Lawsuit — Jimi Hendrix Likeness on Trial

The estate of rock legend Jimi Hendrix won a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Seattle, Washington-based businessman who used the star’s name and image to promote his brand of vodka. In Experience Hendrix LLC et al v. Electric Hendrix LLC et al, Case No. 2:07-cv-00338-TSZ (W.D. Wash. 2009). a U.S. District Court judge ruled HENDRIX ELECTRIC VODKA infringes on the estate’s trademarks.

Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix, which owns and licenses Hendrix’s likeness and music won a $3.2 million judgment against Craig Dieffenbach and his Electric Hendrix Spirits. Electric Hendrix Spirits had described the liquor as inspired “by the innovative spirit of legendary musician Jimi Hendrix.”

A legal purple haze has surrounded the deceased guitarist for years. In this case, Hendrix’s sister Janie Hendrix, CEO of Experience Hendrix LLC, alleged trademark infringement and false advertising for its “tasteless promotion” of Hendrix Electric Vodka, sold in purple-tinted bottle. Plaintiffs further alleged that Hendrix’s name and likeness were used without permission. Janie Hendrix, however, isn’t the only Hendrix in this fight. Leon Hendrix, Jimi’s biological brother, who has been engaged in a long-running legal dispute with Janie Hendrix over Jimi’s assets, is a partner in defendants’ venture. Indeed, Mr. Dieffenbach, has helped Leon Hendrix finance his court fight over Jimi’s estate. Here’s a story about the lawsuit and the Hendrix family’s squabbles over who has the right to make money off the late rock star.

In its February 12, 2009 order, the District Court ordered the company to cease using Hendrix products for commercial purposes and ordered the vodka and any related advertising be withdrawn. And the beat goes on . . . .

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